The Deployment Diary

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Great Escape...

Seems some Iraqi prisoners planned an escape from their prison near the Kuwaiti border by tunneling out. A six hundred foot tunnel was found first and a few hours later, a smaller three hundred foot tunnel was discovered.

My first thought? Well, anyone who enjoys military history as I do (or those of my parents' generation who were/are Steve McQueen fans) would most likely have had the same thought - and apparently the same thought COL Brown had: The Great Escape of course!

Our talented journalist's first thought? The reporter, Albert Eisele, who is the former Press Secretary to Vice President Mondale? HIS first and last thought (considering the idiocy was actually written into this journalistic masterpiece): The Shawshank Redemption.

I've read this story over and over, I've now typed The Shawshank Redemption and yet, I still cannot seem to stop shaking my head in disbelief. How the heck do you say, "The elaborate escape is reminiscent of the 1994 movie, 'The Shawshank Redemption,' where a prisoner burrows his way out of prison" with a straight face? How does an editor read that line and think, "BINGO! Albert, my man, you've done it again. You've made the comparison of the century!!!"

Sheesh. And we depend on these people to keep us informed? Heaven help us.

Lets see: A man goes to prison for a crime he may or may not have been guilty of, he is beaten up a lot the first two years and then things get better as far as prisons go, he helps prisoners get books, he helps the warden steal money, apparently he tunnels out...

BINGO!! It's certainly what most Americans would think of when reading an article about Iraqi prisoners digging tunnels to escape from a prison camp.

It certainly could not be: Stalag Luft III. RAF officers who start to dig three tunnels (Tom, Dick and Harry) to escape a German POW camp in Poland. Matter of fact, The Great Escape - as it became known, began after MUCH preparation on the 24th/25th of March 1944. Wow...these tunnels were even found on pretty much the anniversary of The Great Escape. But nah,

BINGO!! The Shawshank Redemption comes to our glorious reporter's mind...

The Iraqis use their bed's wooden support boards to build a makeshift floor to hide their tunnel. The RAF officers use the wooden rails from their beds to support their tunnels to keep them from caving in.

The Shawshank Redemption... Yeah. Sure.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think these prisoners probably went to half of the extraordinary means, coming up with brilliant plans as the RAF officers did (their forged documents alone were absolutely genius), but there are a few parallels. More so than a movie based on a a book by Stephen King, that's for sure.

And a few other thoughts: Seems that we should have learned that beds should not have wooden pieces that can be used to help escapees lol. Do we no longer LEARN from history?

And, if my memory from past reading serves me correctly, even in the 1940s, the Germans had sensors around the perimeter of the POW camps due to previous attempts to tunnel out. This is why the RAF officers had to tunnel so deep - to avoid the sensors. Seems like WE should be able to muster up some 2005 technology SOMEWHERE to help secure our current prisoners' perimeter in case they decide to tunnel lol. Especially considering our prisoners are NOT men who may or may not have committed a crime as in the wonderful movie they have been compared, but may very well be COLD BLOODED, MURDERING, BRUTAL Islamic terrorists...

Ya think? Anyhow...

Further Reading:
For anyone not familiar with the story of Stalag Luft III and The Great Escape, here are a few links for you. It's an amazing story where these men with little to no equipment built tunnels (eventually only finishing one due to circumstances), forged documents to use once they were free, made clothes to wear... Just an amazing story of what can be done if one sets their mind to it.

The Great Escape - Rob Davis
Excellent detailed information...

Return to Stalag Luft III
A wonderful article about Bertram 'Jimmy' James, one of the 76 escapees. This article follows him as he returns to Stalag Luft III on the 60th anniversary of The Great Escape. Be sure to view the Photo Gallery of the 60th Anniversary and also follow the links at the bottom of the article to read more about Mr. James and his experiences after being shot down in 1940.

The Great Escape Memorial Project
A worthy cause to donate to...

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